Sunday, September 26, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
To all of my non Hebrew speaking followers, this means Happy New Year :)
Well, so far, my Jewish New Year has been more than just happy--it's been wonderful. I don't even know where to begin! Ill guess I'll backtrack a few days...
So I have officially been a volunteer at the foster home for three days, and I couldn't be happier with my placement. The past two visits I actually painted their front inside door! It was a dull shade of brown, so they entrusted me with a few brushes, a few paints, and voila, it became a painting. It was the perfect job for me. Working with kids, AND painting? It doesn't get much better than that.
Alon, the owner, told me to make the door look friendly and kid-like. At first I wasn't sure what to do, so he gave me some advice. Here's a description of the final product: a house on a hill with a red roof, a big bright sun, flowers, and clouds, birds, and an Azure blue sky. It isn't exactly a Van Gogh piece, but I had a lot of fun doing it. And thankfully, the owners are happy with it too--they already gave me another painting project! It's definitely a lot of work, but it's fun work. At one point white I was painting Alon put on American music from the sixties, my personal favorite. I was jamming, painting, and even singing along a bit. Pure bliss.
Speaking of bliss, we all got our bikes the other day! It's the most liberating thing, being (sort of) mobile in an unknown city. I was able to bike to the pre-Rosh Hashana party the foster home hosted for all of the kids and volunteers. The ride was mostly uphill, and hot, but I made it. And I really needed the exercise because I have yet to find a pilates class in the middle of the desert. As a result, I have promised my roomates to lead weekly yoga/pilates sessions to keep us all in shape. They don't call it the Year Course 35 for no reason. The chocolate spread, hummus, and pita is unavoidable.
Anyway, the pre-New Year party was fun, though I couldn't stay long because I had an apartment meeting to get back to. After the meeting I cooked for the first time! My roommate Alexis and I made a Quinoa and Pasta chicken soup/ Stew. It turned out really delicious. I really love living with people on a limited spending stipend because it forces us to be creative in the kitchen...which we truly have been. Also, my friend bought a Panini maker, which pretty much explains why I love her so.
After dinner we went out again, got very little sleep (what else is new) and got up at the crack of dawn to catch an 8:20 bus to Tel Aviv. It took my roommate 3 attempts to wake me up this morning--it just wasn't happening. So when my friend Maya asked if I was ready to leave while I went to brush my teeth, I was a bit frazzled. I packed in literally two minutes, and thankfully I made the bus. I sat next to a Russian woman to spoke about as much Hebrew as I do, so our conversation was interesting. She kept asking me whether I thought Obama was a practicing Muslim. I repeatedly said "no" and then proceeded to sleep the rest of the ride.
I got to the HUGE station in Tel Aviv (it's pretty much a mall) and was a little overwhelmed to say the least. But, I finally got on a second bus to Ben Yehuda street and found the familiar face I was looking for, my Grandpa, Saba Uri. In case you don't know, Saba means Grandpa in Hebrew. We had a lovely afternoon--he made me delicious meal, I napped, showered, and then headed to his girlfriend's newly redone house for Rosh Hashana dinner. The house is MAGNIFICENT. High ceilings, marble everywhere. It was nice seeing people I haven't seen in a while, including my (sort of) cousin Shaked. She is my age and we have A LOT in common. We talked the entire night, and she may take me out with her friends tomorrow! All tentative plans of course, but I think it would be really fun. Now do you see why I love Jewish holidays? Endless amounts of food, shmoozing, and relaxation.
Well, that's about it for now. Time for some real sleep. Finally.
Liyla Tov and Shana Tova
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Hey guys! Sorry this is my first time writing since arriving in Israel, it’s been sooo busy. So much has happened already, so I’ll give a brief description of everything…well I’ll do my best.
The first 24 hours of my departure I had conflicting emotions—stress, anxiety, excitement. I pulled an extremely difficult all nighter on August 28th, said my final goodbye to my boyfriend, and then headed to the airport with my Mom, Dad, and Stepdad, Alan. Can't say it was an easy goodbye, but I knew it wasn't going to be. Finally got to JFK and was relieved to see that neither of my massive bags weighed over fifty pounds! I tried so hard to take out clothes—I kept packing, repacking, and packing some more the day before until they were finally both 49 pounds each. Thank God.
At the airport it was nice seeing a familiar face—my kindergarten bud Rachel. Unfortunately she’s in a different section of my program, along with most of the people on my flight. I’m in section three, which is what I requested! It has the best order of locations; first three months in the Negev (desert), then winter in Jerusalem, and lastly, summer in Bat Yam (near the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv). The airplane ride was fairly uneventful; slept for the first few hours, had a long conversation with the person sitting next to me (who I met at orientation) and drew a bit with my new handy notebook/color pencils, given to me by my wonderful Grandmother, Sonia.
Ten short hours later we landed in Israel. Everyone clapped—It was clear that the entire plane was excited to be in Israel…and that’s just how it is. The ruach (spirit) is just ONE of the many things I love about this country.
After getting to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, we picked up our colossal bags, loaded them onto the bus, and headed due south towards Arad. When we got to our apartments, I met my roommate, Tali. We instantly clicked…and even though we were stranded, just us, in the apartment for seven hours, we managed to talk, joke around, watch a movie, and attempt to unpack.
I also love all of my other roommates. Turns out I’m the only non-“Judaean” of the apartment (I wasn’t involved in Young Judaea throughout my life) so I was the “newbie” of the group. At first I felt a bit detached from the whole Jewish camp thing, but now I hardly even notice. They all seem funny, approachable, and willing to teach me everything there is to know about Young Judaea.
Our apartment bonding really solidified yesterday when we ventured to the Arad Mall to tackle our first grocery shop. Strangely enough, it was a thrilling experience. Finding the cheapest items, the right vegetables, and the most useful groceries is game that requires skill, attention to detail, and decent knowledge of Hebrew (something I’m going to work on during the next 9 months!)
Later that evening we cooked dinner and then headed out to a local bar called “Muzas,” one of two bars in the entire city. Our entire section was there, so it was fun AND legal ;)
Although Arad is dry, HOT, and rather desolate, I find it beautiful and peaceful—a nice break from reality, and from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Unfortunately I’ve got to run to yet another orientation session, but I’ll be back soon with updates on my new life in the desert.
Ps. There was a suspicious object right outside my apartment today so the police blew it up. Tali and I were so scared we were in tears, but apparently it’s a safety measure that happens all the time?
Only in Israel….